Creating Passive Income Streams So I Can Act as Sassy as I Want at My Day Job

6+ Passive Income Ideas for Wedding and Portrait Photographers

Finding direction has always been a struggle for me.  I’m constantly coming up with new ideas and my soul is always being pulled different ways.  The more I try to commit myself to a passion or mission, the more the world’s oyster opens up to me and I grasp up the pearls of inspiration putting me further off of a traditional beaten path.  I have always been a hustler, I started working when I was 16 years old and have kept at least two jobs/side gigs going simultaneously since that very year.  I turn 32 in a couple of months and half my life I have been working my ass off.  I am a workaholic, I need it to be this way to an extent.  Any time I become too idle, I feel myself slipping into severe depression and despair.  Point being, I needed a personal blog post, I needed to put some of the ideas bouncing around in my head out there for a little bit of accountability and in hopes that something will resonate with you and you will reach out so we can discuss further.

Obviously from my history as a serial side hustler, I am aware that multiple income streams is a must – either out of financial necessity or neurotic necessity like it is for me.  While browsing around on Pinterest, I came across a blog post called Make More Money: The Ultimate Guide To Why Multiple Income Streams Are Important, 6 Great Ideas of What To Offer & How to Add A New Stream This Week where Michelle Warner mentions that the average millionaire has at least 7 revenue streams.  What the eff.  So I’m working my butt off and I only have two revenue streams, and I’m aware that at least for my photography business I could be doing more to make it more profitable, but I am not a sales person, I lead everything I do with my enormous liberal heart right out on my sleeve.  This got me thinking about how much I hated Tim Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Workweek because the theories included shortcuts and income streams being SO impersonal which countered my desire to be so hands on involved with.  Now I am kicking myself for putting my copy of The 4-Hour Workweek in a Little Free Library because after 5 years officially in business I can now recognize that I cannot scale a personal portrait and wedding photography business to be sustainable and my sole source of income.  I am already working a minimum of 60 hours per week, the likelihood that I will be able to keep up with this pace over the next decade is not good so I need to weave myself a pretty little safety net for whatever the future holds.

Passive Income Stream Goals for 2017

Since I am already spread so thin, I want to build the passive income streams up first.  Interestingly enough, I started earning passive income long before I ever learned the phrase “passive income”.  Working a part time management position in the food and beverage industry was not making ends meet and one of the options I heard of to make money online was writing for a site called Associated Content [RIP – purchased by Yahoo only to be completely dismantled shortly thereafter and all of my old writing was deleted with no backup copy].  I was paid up front anywhere from $1-$10 for articles over 600 words and then made a few cents afterwards based on the number of page views.  Now that is gone and I haven’t been able to find another similar site and structure so I’m starting out from scratch.  **This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links – but I’m for real doing and loving all these things and I’d be happy to elaborate further if you’d like to discuss.**

1.       Educational Resources: I have wanted to write a book for years, I’ve even had the basis of it in my mind, but I am horrible at writing fiction and cannot get that ball rolling.  As it turns out, I’ve been able to pour my knowledge out into educational resources though, non-fiction business advice appears to be where I hit my stride.  In addition to completely geeking out on arts and photography, I am also a total nerd for marketing and business plus I love working with other creative entrepreneurs.  Developing resources for other small business owners seems like a natural progression for me and hopefully where I can bring in the bulk of the additional passive income that I am hoping for.  I would like to create a couple of eBooks/guides and maybe some templates as well.  I have been doing a little bit of research on this topic, and I’m not 100% sold on the idea of creating another business solely for assisting with creative entrepreneurs.  I would somehow like to keep it in the fold of my photography business because I want to be hands on with everything I do without spreading myself too thin and starting a new site from scratch and building onto it is not happening right now.  I have heard good things about selling digital resources on Etsy because they are immediately available for download so currently Etsy fulfillment is my plan for rolling out this form of “passive income” [a term which I will use loosely here because I am aware that this will require even more marketing than I have to do for my photography business].
Concrete goal for Educational Resources for 2017: Create 4 guides/eBooks
Pie in the Sky goal: $20,000+ in annual educational resources sales

2.       Client Print Sales…  I am super lax when it comes to clients printing their photos.  As long as you are printing your images, I am happy, I do not require folks to purchase their prints through me.  Again, I’m spread so thin that adding another product to deliver is a sticky area, but I hear other photographers touting this as THE reason my business is not as profitable as I would like it to be.  I still won’t be forcing clients to purchase their prints through me, but to hopefully bring in a little bit of print sales, from now on, I will be offering 20% off any printed products purchased through Zenfolio viewing galleries for the first 48 hours after I send out the gallery of final images – an offer that is good for all clients as well as their friends and family members.  Currently I make $0 in print sales through Zenfolio, but I’ve spoken to a couple of other Zenfolio users and they say they are bringing in over $1,000 in print sales on their wedding galleries so obviously this is a huge area of failure and missed opportunities for me.
Concrete goal for Print Sales for 2017: $250 in print sales

3.       Stock Photography:  I have applied to stock photography sites a few times over the past few years, but found myself frustrated with the application and waiting process.  Somehow this year I stumbled onto Adobe Stock – I was able to create an account easily with my existing AdobeID and start building up my library of images, thank God for a use for a decade worth of practice shots and random flowers that I felt like keeping around on my extra hard drive, I was able to build up my content to test the waters and am happy to report that I have made some sales already.  I love these 100% passive income options, no additional marketing or work required once the images have been accepted for sale and they’ve accepted images that other stock sites have rejected before which makes me not even want to mess with other companies [however, Adobe Stock does not hold exclusivity, you are welcome to use the same images on other stock sites and if you have one to recommend to me that might be more profitable and worth my time than Adobe Stock, PLEASE let me know].  They also accept vector and video files so once I have mastered stock images, I hope to branch out into *gulp* videography.
Concrete goal for Adobe Stock for 2017: Build my portfolio of images that are for sale to 10,000 images by the end of the year. 
Pie in the Sky goal: $5,000+ in annual stock photography sales [I am currently at $37.50 so this is REAL lofty]

Update: Of course as soon as I hit publish on this blog post, I was accepted to Shutterstock as a stock image contributor as well so if you are interested in submitting stock photography, I've now added them to my list of recommendations as well, you can sign up for their site here.

4.       Fine Art Print Sales: You’ve probably seen sites around like Cafepress and Zazzle where all you do is upload your images and collect small bits of royalties off of your sales.  Personally I prefer Society6 for this, they have TONS of different products and an easy to use interface, they help market your work, and there is a chance that your work could get picked up and sold through a bigger brand [hello Urban Outfitters, I’m waiting for you to pick up the one single solitary image that I currently have for sale in my Society6 shop!]  Since I’ve been taking more photos for stock sales, hopefully I will come up with more non-portrait, frame worthy pieces to sell through their site.
Concrete goal for Society6 for 2017: List 100 images for sale
Pie in the Sky goal: $500+ in annual Society6 sales

5.       Affiliate Sales: One of the multitude of things I have done over the years is blogging so I already have an account with Amazon Associates.  Once upon a time that account made me $25-$200 a month in affiliate sales, but that’s dropped down to nearly nothing after my Associated Content guides were so rudely deleted by Yahoo.  After hearing Carrie Swails’ guest podcast on Photo Field Notes, Alternative Ways for Photographers to Make Money, I signed up with ShareASale which allows you to sign up for multiple affiliate accounts at the same time.  I have signed up for a handful of affiliate programs with places such as Rent the Runway and hopefully soon I will be approved for Artifact Uprising, but I still have no clue what I’m doing in this arena.  I don’t quite yet know how I will be incorporating affiliate sales, if it doesn’t fit in naturally, I refuse to use it, but I want to at least allow 6 months to see how it will go.
Concrete goal for affiliate sales for 2017: TBD
Pie in the Sky goal: $5,000+ in annual affiliate sales

6.       Swagbucks: I was super skeptical upon joining Swagbucks because I had been a member of one of those sites before where you earn points for certain tasks and then 4 million years later you get a $20 gift card to Kmart or some other crapshoot you don’t even want.  I signed up anyway and I’m super glad that I did.  While it didn’t even occur to me that this was a passive revenue stream to me, it actually is – I checked my account for the last year and I’ve earned nearly $400 from their site [which I could have taken the cash, but instead redeemed for gift cards to other sites and that’s why it didn’t occur to me to count as income].  Most of this accumulates through a Google Chrome extension that awards you points for shopping at certain sites where you probably already make purchases including Target, Walmart, Amazon, Starbucks, Old Navy, Lowes, Groupon, Sephora, and travel sites [you’ll have the added bonus to be able to see if there are any coupon codes available for that retailer if you use the Chrome extension].  If you are a little hyperactive about earning points and credits, you can compete in challenges, watch videos, and fill out surveys to earn points and money faster.
[I’m not setting any goals on what I’d like to bring in via Swagbucks because I don’t want to accidentally give myself permission/encouragement to keep spending…  A penny SAVED is a penny earned and if I didn’t spend so much monies maybe I wouldn’t feel like I need so many income streams, but it is awesome getting discounts and cash back on things I was already going to order and I’m 100% sure you’d like to do the same.]

Passive Income Streams I am Currently too Poor or Terrified to Try, but We Can Still Chat About

  • Real Estate Rental Income
  • Investment/Stocks

5 Year Plan

So why the hell do I have this anxiety out there that I need to bring in all of this income on top of my full time position?  For YEARS the people who are close to me have probably heard me ramble on and on about wanting a wedding venue.  This is it.  I’m hoping to roll all of the extra income I earn into a savings account [or invest it into something with high interest if someone wants to teach me about investing and give me some extra anxiety meds to get me through the process of not knowing my money is 100% safe] until I am able to break ground on my dream location.  I don’t care to elaborate on it much more than that, but I want something that feels industrial, has tons of natural light, and a multitude of photographic options both inside and outside of the structure.  I have zero concept of what it costs to build something of this magnitude, but I do know that I would love to put as much sweat equity into it as possible.  If I make that a reality, who even knows what will come next.

Anyways… thank you for following along on the longest ass blog post I have ever written.  Politically 2017 has thrown me for a loop, but I have to get my eyeballs back on the prize because if we were going to spontaneously combust I think it would have already happened.  I plan on writing more about being a creative entrepreneur on my blog from now on.  I give myself permission.  Share some creative ways you’re helping supplement your income in the comments or any other feedback you might have for me.  If you aren’t comfortable with leaving it in the comments, but would like to chat, feel free to contact me using this form.

Jancis + Jaime's Flat Top Lake Engagement Photos

I had the honor of traveling to Ghent, West Virginia to take engagement photos for Jancis and Jaime at Flat Top Lake.  They were so laid back and fun, it was like a mini vacation to get out of town and hang out.  Jancis and Jaime chose Flat Top Lake for their engagement photos and as their wedding venue because of their mutual adoration for the outdoors and aventure.I love the Elliatt Porcelain Picnic Dress that Jancis picked up from Rent the Runway just for her engagement session!  What a great idea to rent a dress, I had to add it to my 10 Tips for Choosing Engagement Session Outfits post.  I cannot remember the last time I was on a boat before their engagement session; it was so relaxing cruising around the lake soaking in the warm sunshine.  I am so excited to return to Flat Top Lake in July for their wedding!

Janet + Jonathan's Virginia Tech Graduation Portraits

Blacksburg, Virginia Senior Portrait Photographer

I love photographing couples and senior portraits, but I rarely get to do both at the same time!  I had a great time taking fall graduation photos around the campus of Virginia Tech with this fun husband and wife duo.  Janet and Jonathan popped a couple of bottles of champagne on the steps of Burruss Hall to celebrate and I LOVE the way they came out!

Obviously Virginia Tech has an incredibly beautiful campus, but the more time I spend walking around, the more I grow to appreciate little details and locations that are frequently overlooked for the popular landmarks.  I mean check out the amazing retro pattern on the front of Cassell Coliseum and the arches on the side.  These are some of my favorite graphic elements on the entire campus even though the wide view of this building is underwhelming, up close, I’m smitten.

Jesse | Christiansburg High School Senior Portrait Photographer

Christiansburg High School Senior Portraits

Jesse is a softball superstar and a member of Christiansburg High School’s graduating class of 2017.  She opted for a fall senior portrait session because she loves the foliage that autumn brings.  These photos were taken at Cascades in Giles County and Pandapas Pond, two places that Jesse and her family love to spend time together.

Stephen + Trisha's Beliveau Estate Engagement Photos

Blacksburg Winery Engagement Photos

Stephen and Trisha originally contacted me to take photos with their 9 month and 2 month old puppies for their holiday cards.  Just a few days before we were scheduled to meet up, Stephen popped the question when they were going to pick up the youngest pup, Trisha said yes… and just like that our Christmas card photos turned into an engagement session! 

I met up with Stephen, Trisha, Cain, and Norah at Beliveau Estate Winery for their photos.  The puppers were excited to get started and so was I.  The cuteness was almost more than I could handle, dog people, bring me your puppies, let them lick my face, I want to drown in a puddle of puppies!  The humans were adorable too, they had that sweet giddiness that comes with being newly engaged and I loved being there to document it – along with their tacky Christmas sweaters.

They’ll be getting married in early June of this year in Culpeper and I am so excited to be joining them as their wedding photographer!  I have my fingers crossed that the entire wedding party will be comprised of puppies wearing bows and bow ties.

Blacksburg Boudoir Photographer

I love this beauty’s edgy look – from her purple rock star hair to her eyelashes that would slash the heart of any man who dares to wrong her.  We started out her boudoir session with a little inspiration straight out of the 90s, channeling Fiona Apple’s layered slips in the “Criminal” music video as we jammed out to 90s alternative music on Google Play.  I didn’t include the racier photos since I do a variety of types of sessions and like to share them all on my blog, but I will paint you this visual image: Guitar Hero guitar, ripped tights, gold sequined underwear, and electrical tape as pasties while we jammed out to Deee Lite’s “Groove is in the Heart” – this gal will henceforth be known to me as “succotash woman”.

She wrote up the sweetest post about her session after she saw her images, I just have to share it with you because it almost made me cry.  

You don't have to be getting married to have a boudoir session, you don't even have to have a significant other.  There is no shame in doing something 100% for you.  I'm all about loving yourself, it is a lifelong journey learning to love the skin you are in and I'd love to help show you the beauty that everyone else sees in you.  Contact me now, let’ get the conversation started!

Route 8 Donuts

Do you ever get a crush on a business?  It happens to me every once in a while…  First I get a crush on the business because I’m into their product or service, etc. Then it goes even deeper and I get completely smitten because I realize that they also kick ass at marketing and business or I wouldn’t have gotten that crush on them to start with.  Maybe it is a business owner thing?

I saw Route 8 Donuts MONTHS before they opened their storefront.  It was a long and excruciating wait for them to open their doors, I was addicted and I hadn’t even tried their donuts yet.  Finally they opened and I managed to drop by on a day that they didn’t sell out early and they were well worth the wait.  I bought a mixed dozen donuts [basically just for me because no one else in my house eats sweets] and had to photograph their beauty before I devoured them and sank happily into a sugar coma.  This box contained red velvet, chocolate frosted with sprinkles, strawberry frosted with sprinkles aka the Homer Simpson donut, Fruity Pebbles, pumpkin spice, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

If you are anywhere near Christiansburg, make sure you drop by [EARLY] for a sweet treat.  The donuts are delightful, the shop is adorable, and the owner is a wonderful human being, awesome #GIRLBOSS, and marketing guru.  They are located at 1225 W Main St, Christiansburg, VA 24073 and you can visit their website here.

Blacksburg Family Portrait Photographer

After taking a pretty long break from photographing families, I had so much fun jumping right back into them headfirst with this family [if you can’t tell by the super fun running and cartwheel GIFs].  Sara and Tung met when they both lived in Ambler Johnson dormitory at Virginia Tech and he proposed to her when she was living in Harper Hall so we had to make sure we included those locations for their 15th anniversary/family photo session.  Lane Stadium is one of the most popular photo location requests that I get from alumni, but unfortunately it isn’t always open so we made due with the practice field next door!  Did I mention how super crafty Sara is?  She made most of what the girls wore for photos, I need her to come back to Blacksburg and teach me how to use the sewing machine I bought 2 years ago and never took out of the box!

Romantic in Revolt

I want to tell you about something kind of exciting that I have been working on for what feels like a few weeks, but has probably been more like 2 years now [and it is actually not photography related]...

First Came the Dreamcatchers

A couple of years ago, my beautiful, talented, wonderful friend Brittany [owner of Tapestry Massage & Yoga in Radford, Virginia] taught me how to make dreamcatchers.  I quickly became addicted to creating art with my hands, I was churning out so many dreamcatchers simply to treat my neurosis that I started selling them at Green Heron Arts Center because I ran out of room.  I hijacked the phrase “Romantic in Revolt” that I had seen floating around on a neon sign that read “Childlike in Wonder, Romantic in Revolt” because it spoke to my soul and that became the name that started selling my artwork under.

Weaving My Worries Away

I started to feel really drawn to weaving and I had been fortunate enough to meet Kate Albee in her short time living in Blacksburg who is also a weaver.  She helped me push through some mental barriers and man up enough to purchase my first loom and go for it.  I learned to weave in 7th grade art class.  My only finished weaving from that class was a cartoon turtle that I drew myself made in neon colors, being the extremely harsh critic of my own artwork that I am, I threw it away thinking I would never return to the loom.  Here I am almost 20 years later teaching myself new techniques as I soumak my ways into the wee hours of the morning on a Melissa & Doug children’s loom.  The artistic process of weaving is so much more therapeutic for me than creating dreamcatchers, I always hit a point where I HATE the way my work looks, but I have to push through because I only have one loom – I swear this process is improving my problem solving skills and working through my doubts and insecurities.  Again I found myself in this predicament that I’m creating a mountain of artwork and squirreling it away in a room that I had once intended to be my photography studio [never say never, if I can sell my artwork maybe I can still end up turning it into a studio].

Etsy Anxiety and Crippling Self Doubt

The time had come to start selling my work online instead of in one retail location where my “ideal client” may or may not ever see them.  With a huge push from yet another amazing talented artist friend of mine, Stephanie of Celestial Surf Studio, I made a plan.  First came the dedicated Romantic in Revolt Instagram account [holy shit I hardly keep up with the photography one!] and I set the date that I would open my Etsy shop.  To take it one step further and make sure I get some eyeballs on my work and give myself accountability, I decided I would host a giveaway [see below] that I set to automatically publish the day the shop opened so if I didn’t follow through I would look like a complete jackass so here I am reluctantly following through.  Etsy has always been a mental block for me, I have dipped my toe in the Etsy waters a few different times and never sold a single item.  So I’m facing my fear of Etsy and I’m putting my weaving out for everyone to see and judge – it somehow feels more personal and like I am more exposed than sharing my photography.  Overwhelming anxiety.  With a MAJOR knot in my stomach I hit publish on 24 pieces of my handmade artwork on the Romantic in Revolt Etsy Shop this morning and sent an email blast out to the handful of people who asked to be notified when I made the leap.

Giveaway

To celebrate me finally gathering up my courage to give Etsy another try, I am hosting a giveaway!  The winner will get to choose a medium sized woven tapestry out of the Romantic in Revolt Etsy shop.

Below are easy ways that you can help me get the word out about my shop and to thank you for your help, each item will provide you an entry into the giveaway AND almost each of the entries can be completed once per day from now until the timer runs out on April 8.  Thank you for joining on my journey of branching out into various other mediums of art!

Mallary + Steven's Blacksburg Engagement Session

It is always a wonderful surprise when you get to meet amazing new clients who were referred by former clients who also just happen to be wonderful.  Mallary and Steven found me after I photographed their friends’ Brandon and Jaki’s Virginia Tech Proposal.  It ended up being super gloomy the day of Mallary and Steven’s engagement session, but thankfully the rain held out for us and the clouds made the greenery look really vibrant.  They brought along their sweet little pit bull pupper Roxy who decided to snack on Queen Anne’s Lace at the end of their photo session.  Keep your eyes peeled because I was fortunate enough to get to travel down to Asheville, North Carolina in January to photograph their super intimate wedding so photos of that will be coming soon.